‘It’s a life or death situation.’ Rishi Sunak has urged for the Winter Fuel Payment to be expanded in order to save lives.

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CAMPAIGNERS are calling on Chancellor Rishi Sunak to expand the eligibility of the Government’s Winter Fuel Payment to help save British lives.

This comes after the biggest historical increase to the energy price cap, which was created to make sure households pay a fair price for their energy bills. However, the cap only covers the most expensive tariffs and does not protect customers against price fluctuations, which have risen following the fuel crisis. According to poverty charity National Energy Action (NEA), 500,000 extra households across Britain are set to be plunged in fuel poverty. On top of this, there will be a dramatic increase in preventable deaths this winter without the expansion of the Winter Fuel Payment.

The staggering rise in energy bills comes at the same time as Mr Sunak’s cut to the £20 Universal Credit uplift, which is set to adversely impact many families particularly over the holiday season.

While the Government has announced a Holiday Support Fund as part of a wider support package for struggling households, NEA is warning more needs to be done to tackle the looming crisis.

Adam Scorer, NEA’s Chief Executive, said: “The massive devastating increases in energy prices will drive over 500,000 more households into fuel poverty, leaving them unable to heat or power their homes.

“Just when they were needed most, the uplifts to Universal Credit are also being withdrawn and inflation is soaring.

“The new Household Support Fund will provide some welcome support for those who can access it, but on its own it is not enough to halt the erosion in incomes and deal with rising prices.

“Without a wider package of support – keeping UC uplifts and more rebates to protect those on the lowest incomes from spiralling energy prices – vulnerable people are still at dire risk of premature death this winter.”

In particular, the NEA is calling on the Government and Mr Sunak to put aside more funding for the Warm Home Discount and Winter Fuel Payment, which are used by many Britons to survive the winter months.

Furthermore, the charity is pushing for Ofgem, the UK’s energy regulator, to take a more proactive approach in supporting those who will be in need.

Mr Scorer added: “We know this situation is preventable, but Ofgem must act fast to protect the most vulnerable consumers when suppliers fail.

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